I made it one hour through the first installment of this 4-part History Channel miniseries and I could go no further. When I saw that it was produced by Joel Osteen, I was skeptical, but I wanted to see it anyway. Surely, this would be Osteen’s chance at redeeming himself from all the false accusations people have leveled at him over the years. Surely now, this would be his chance to preach the Gospel after 20 years of positive thinking and Christian motivational speaking. For a while it looked like they were doing a good job, taking the Bible literally, reverently, and seriously.
But it was hard for me to take it seriously. I know that Osteen is not a man that preaches lordship salvation or Hell. He is more like a motivational speaker; and has even spoken in favor of universalism; and rejected the idea of preaching about Hell. In this miniseries, there is a combination of dramatization like a movie, with interviews from Bible scholars: of which every one is liberal: either from the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, or academics from state universities. No Southern Baptists, no Assemblies of God, no Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). All of which explains very much about Osteen’s theological roots: liberal theology. Somewhere along the way, he must’ve adopted it. There is also Biblical criticism: the massacre of the innocents is explained away as a non-historical event, written into the Bible to “make Jesus look like Moses.” One scholar in particular uses strange words: dreams are a mechanism for information from God (true), the census was a device to get Jesus born in Bethlehem (okay, true), then he says that Matthew was obsessed with making Jesus “look like Moses.” O–kay. Seeing that gay marriage ministers are consulted throughout, with one scholar saying at 57:15, “You can do what the h-ll you like in Judea,” referring to king Herod killing the babies of Bethlehem: it was hard for me to take this program all that seriously, which is why I turned it off at this point. Sorry Joel: you’re a liberal. I just can’t take this production seriously. If you want to see some good Jesus movies, then watch these instead:
- Jesus of Nazareth (1977) – IMDb: 8.5/10 – praised by New York Times, Emmy Awards
- The Passion of the Christ (2004) – IMDb: 7.2/10 – praised by Time, Academy Awards
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) – 6.6 – praised by Variety, Hollywood Reporter
- The Gospel of John (2003) – IMDb: 7.7/10
- The Jesus Film (1979) – IMDb: 7.1/10